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Iran: Filmmaker and activist Mohammad Nourizad released from prison

Nourizad left detention seriously ill, and reportedly attempted suicide in jail
Images released of the activist show him to have lost weight, appearing weak, and using a cane to stand (Screengrab/Twitter)

Mohammad Nourizad, an Iranian filmmaker and activist, has been released from Tehran's Evin prison, his lawyer announced in a Twitter post on Thursday.

Nourizad’s release was sponsored by both his brother and his lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, who paid 800 million Tomans or eight billion Iranian rials (almost £140,000), according to the tweet.

The activist is reportedly seriously ill, suffering from reduced vision and hearing, and a reduced heart rate. He will be treated in a hospital from 10 July.

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In photos taken after his release he is using a cane to stand and appears to have lost weight, a stark contrast to how he looked before his time in detention.

In an audio file released by UK-based media outlet Kayhan London, Nourizad explains that he suffers from a heart disease that prevents blood from reaching his brain, leaving him unconscious. The prison could not - or would not - understand this, he adds.

It wasn't clear whether Nourizad's release was linked to his worsening health.

Following his release, a video was published showing Nourizad surrounded by other human rights activists, including Narges Mohammadi and Abdolfattah Soltani.

The 68-year-old was convicted in February 2020 on charges relating to an open letter that he and others signed calling for the resignation of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other constitutional changes.

Nourizad’s was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison. This includes seven-and-a-half years for his alleged membership of an illegal group with the intention to disrupt national security and one-and-a-half years for engaging with opposition groups against the state.

In May, UN human rights experts called for Nourizad’s release, saying he had deteriorated so gravely he might soon die.

Nourizad is reported to have gone on hunger strikes, refused medication, attempted suicide, and started self-harming to protest his incarceration and neglect, as well as the mistreatment of his family by authorities.